Basic Intro to the command-line interface (Windows)

Note: 'Please note that throughout this post, we use the terms 'directory' or 'folder' but they are the same thing.'

Let's get started!!

What is the command line?

The command-line or command-line interface is a text-based application for viewing and handling files on your computer through the use of commands. It's much like Windows Explorer or Finder on the Mac, but without the graphical interface. Other names for the command line are cmdCLIpromptconsole, or terminal.

Open the command-line interface

To start, we need to open our command-line interface first.

Depending on your version of Windows and your keyboard, one of the following should open a command window (you may have to experiment a bit, but you don't have to try all of these suggestions

  • Go to the Start menu or screen, and enter "Command Prompt" in the search field.
  • Go to Start menu → Windows System → Command Prompt.
  • Hold the Windows key and press the "R" key to get a "Run" window. Type "cmd" in the box, and click the OK key.


On Windows, you probably see a >, like this:



Each command will be prepended by a > and one space, but you should not type it. Your computer will do it for you. 

The part up to and including the > is called the command line prompt, or prompt for short. It prompts you to input something there.

Writing your first command 

Let's start by typing this command:

Your first command: Windows


> whoami

And then hit enter

The computer will print your username.


It'd be nice to know where are we now, right? Let's see. Type this command and hit enter:

Current directory


> cd

We should see something similar to this:


Note: 'cd' stands for 'change directory'.

Learn more about a command

Many commands you can type at the command prompt have built-in help that you can display and read! For example, to learn more about the current directory command:

Command Help

List files and directories

So what's in it? It'd be cool to find out. Let's see:

List files and directories


> dir
 Directory of C:\Users\username
05/08/2020 07:28 PM <DIR>      Applications
05/08/2020 07:28 PM <DIR>      Desktop
05/08/2020 07:28 PM <DIR>      Downloads
05/08/2020 07:28 PM <DIR>      Music

Note: 'DIR' stands for 'Directory'.

We can also cd into a folder and see all the list of items in that folder:
> cd Desktop

> dir

And hit enter, you should see all the files inside of your desktop directory.

Change current directory


> cd Documents

Hit Enter after that!

Check if it's changed:

Create directory


> mkdir Testing

To Create a folder or directory

> cd Testing

To open or navigate to the folder or directory


A small challenge for you: in your newly created practice directory, create a directory called test. (Use the cd and mkdir commands.)

Exercise solution

Now that you are in the Testing directory

Create another folder or directory inside it using the mkdir command like we did above and give it any name of your choice and navigate to that folder using the cd command

Having done that, Congrats! 

Clean up

We don't want to leave so many commands on our CLI, we can easily navigate back to our Desktop Directory using the following command:


> cd ..

Using .. the cd command will change your current directory to the parent directory (that is, the directory that contains your current directory or the folder that contains your current folder).

Deleting the Testing directory

Note: Deleting files using delrmdir or rm is irrecoverable, meaning the deleted files will be gone permanently! So be very careful with this command.


> rmdir /S Testing
Testing, Are you sure <Y/N>? Y

Done! To be sure it's deleted, let's check it:

Check deletion


> dir

If you do not see the Testing Dir, Congrats!! You have successfully deleted it.


That's it for now! You can safely close the command line now. Let's do it the hacker way


> exit

Cool, huh? 


Here is a summary of some useful commands:

Command (Windows)     Description Example
exit     close the window exit
cd     change directory cd testing
cd     show the current directory cd 
dir     list directories/files dir
mkdir     create a new directory mkdir testingdirectory
rmdir (or del)     delete a file del c:\testing\testing.txt
rmdir /S     delete a directory rm -r testdirectory
[CMD] /?     get help for a command cd /? 

These are just a very few of the commands you can run in your command line.

Developers Forum 7/3/2020 Seth 0 Answer(s) 373 views



Seth 1413

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